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UNCIVIL WAR - Nottingham Post Press Review
NOEL Harrower will be a name familiar to many Bygones readers. He spent most of his working life as a careers officer in Nottinghamshire and won several awards for his one-act plays. Now, he’s written a fascinating novel about five fictitious Nottinghamshire children, whose lives are torn apart by the English Civil War. Tom is a stable boy for John Hutchinson, owner of Owthorpe Manor, who later became the parliamentary governor of Nottingham Castle. He was one of the commissioners who signed of King Charles I’s death warrant. Tom’s sister Meg is a maidservant at Pierrepont Hall. Her friend Nick is a trainee footman who never wanted to be a soldier, while Jed takes the King’s shilling and serves in both armies but later regrets it. The fifth child in the saga is Alice, who is left to help run a refuge for victims. The novel’s twin tales cover the period from the outset of the war, following the raising of the King’s Standard at Nottingham Castle in 1642 through to 1646, when King Charles surrendered to the Scottish army outside Newark. Seen through the eyes of innocent children, Uncivil War depicts the characters’ initial excitement at the thought of conflict. Later, they come to hate the war through life-changing experiences and question whether it ever needed to have happened. The author, pictured, dedicates the book to the countless thousands of child soldiers across the world and through all the ages. He says: “Yesterday’s happenings provide insights into human nature, which we can learn from. Sadly, lessons are seldom learnt. “Civil wars are usually the most cruel of all, splitting families and neighbours. “In my book, this is seen in the Pierrepont family and also in the tensions between Tom and Meg. Members of these families are seen to come together at the end. “Compassion and resistance to the war is shown by Elizabeth Drury and her young daughter, Alice, who learns from her example. “Meg and Nick show great courage when the plague hits Newark at the height of the third siege.  “Although these characters are fictitious, there were real people in Nottinghamshire who behaved in this way. In our own time, we hear about such happenings . . . “Hopefully, my book is relevant for our time. “My aim was to replace the concept of picturesque Cavaliers and godly Roundheads with recognisable individuals, whom we might meet in the high street today.” Noel, who now lives in Devon, recalls: “When I arrived in Nottingham, my office was within a stone’s throw of a plaque on a wall announcing that this was the spot where King Charles 1st raised his standard in 1642. “I went to the library and read Wood’s History Of The Civil War In Nottinghamshire. This led me to join an adult education course on the subject, run by Nottingham University. “My attention was caught by the fact that Lucy Hutchinson had written her own account of the war in which her husband had held the post of governor of Nottingham Castle. “I bought a copy of her book from a second-hand dealer and discovered that she was a strong-minded woman, judgemental but brave. I was hooked on the subject.” He resolved to put the children centre stage, and as it unfolded, it became two separate tales of a brother and sister who leave the family farmstead to work in grand houses in Nottinghamshire. As a boy growing up in the Second World War, Noel loved historical adventures stories, especially The Children Of The Forest, by Captain Marriott. Now he’s written an engaging, action-packed story that brings history to life, in Uncivil War, Twin Tales From Nottinghamshire, by Noel Harrower, is published by Troubador at £8.99.
Fictional tale puts children at heart of monumental period
From The Nottingham Post of February 29th 2016
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